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WUTAC at Peterborough East Railway Station

1915

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The Great Eastern Soldier’s and Sailor’s Rest Room opened on Christmas Eve 1915 at Peterborough East Railway Station.  The rooms were managed by the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council (WUTAC), supporters of the temperance movement popular at that time. During the first nine days alone, 321 servicemen called at the tea room. They were given food, drink and an opportunity to rest in comfort whilst waiting for their trains to and from the front.  The ladies who managed the tea room encouraged the men to write in the visitors’ books, only two of which have survived from 1916 and 1917. There are over 590 signatures in the books that reveal the servicemen came from across the United Kingdom and as far away as Australia.  They wrote messages of gratitude, poetry and drew pictures expressing their appreciation for the service that the ladies were providing. These two slim volumes provide a brief insight into the thoughts and feelings of the men transiting through the city during the Great War. The books have been digitised and transcribed and the servicemen’s personal histories researched in an effort to tell their story and trace their families.





Peterborough United Win the Division!

1960-61

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Peterborough United football Club were elected to the Fourth Division of the Football League on 28 May 1960 for the start of the 1960/61 season. They won the Division title at their first attempt. Their centre forward, Terry Bly, scored 52 league and 2 cup goals during that season. This remains the post war Football League goal scoring record for a single season.





Stegosaurus

150 million years ago

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While marine reptiles swam in the Jurassic seas, dinosaurs roamed the land. Where Peterborough is today was under the Jurassic seas, so dinosaur bones are rarely found. Some however may have washed down to the coast. These bones thought to belong to a Stegosaurus where found in the Fletton brick pits.  Stegosaurus was a large, plant-eating dinosaur that had two rows of bony plates along its back that end with a double pair of spikes.





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Peterborough East Station Opens

1845

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Opening on the 2nd of June 1845, Peterborough East was the first railway station in Peterborough, built by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). It linked Peterborough with the London and Birmingham Railway. It was located on Station Road just off the Town Bridge south of the River Nene. A section of the now defunct railway line to Northampton still survives as the Nene Valley Railway. It was closed to passenger traffic in June 1966. With the arrival of the railway a new age began for Peterborough, it was the catalyst for turning a small market town into the city we know today.





The London Brick Company

1877

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Peterborough benefitted from a type of clay that provided an ideal raw material for brick making – first exploited by the Romans, abandoned after they left and again revived in the 1400’s by local craftspeople who created the material for building locally. In 1877 James McCallum Craig bought a property at auction near Peterborough, known as Fletton Lodge. He decided that the site was ideal for local brick making and started a small company. When excavation of the surface clay at Fletton began, a much harder clay was found deeper down, the unique Lower Oxford Clay. It was locally known as the ‘Fletton’ because of its original place of manufacture, but its main market was in London, transported there on the Peterborough to London rail line, so giving the name London Brick. The end of the First World War in 1918 brought a huge demand for London Bricks to fulfil the massive increase in house building and in the late 1920s there was an amalgamation of several small companies into a larger, more efficient company, London Brick. By 1931, 1,000 million bricks a year were being produced. After World War II there was another building boom and this increased the success of the company; demand for bricks far outstripped supply and by the early 1950s many workers were being recruited from as far afield as Italy to satisfy the need for London Bricks.





Resources

Suffragettes Plant a ‘Bomb’

1913

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On Monday 21 April 1913 Mr William Cowling of New Fletton discovered a brown paper parcel under the Oundle Road Railway Bridge. On the parcel was a pasted label saying, 'Votes for Women. Handle With Care. Votes For Women', there was also a Sufferage Society badge pinned on it. Mr Cowling, unsurprisingly, handed it into the police! When it was opened it was found to contain a square tin box with a hole in the lid with a wick protruding. Inside the box were partially burned bits of brown paper and pieces of brick, sugar and sawdust. This was harmless (unlike some suffragette acts in other areas) but it did alarm the authorities that such an item could be placed under an important railway bridge with such ease and without exciting suspicion. The perpetrator was never caught.





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A Spy in Our Midst

1982

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Peterborough has hosted several production companies for a variety of film and television productions, two of which were for James Bond films. The first, filmed in 1982, was Octopussy with Roger Moore, where Nene Valley Railway transformed into Karl-Marx-Stadt and formed the backdrop to a thrilling carriage-top fight through the local countryside. The second, in 1995, was Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan. The film crew utilised the old British Sugar sugar beet factory in Woodston and again the Nene Valley Railway near Castor.





Fletton Church Fascinations

c.800

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St Margaret's Church in Fletton was identified in the Domesday Book of 1086, but some of its features are considerably older. Safely protected inside the church are Anglo-Saxon carvings, presumed to be 8th or 9th Century, consisting of a frieze and two separate figures. The frieze contains images of saints, angels and mythical beasts, set amongst typical Anglo-Saxon woven designs. The images are thought to be of St. Michael and an Evangelist. All of the stonework is a light pink colour suggesting that it was once in a fire. One theory is that they had been moved from Peterborough Abbey during the great fire of 1116. Another feature of the church is a large cross in the churchyard which may have Anglo-Saxon origins. The cross has had several additions and alterations and contains a rather peculiar Latin inscription at its base.
Access
The cross can be easily accessed in the churchyard, but the internal features can only be viewed when the church is open. Photo credit: St Margaret's Church, Old Fletton, Peterborough cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Julian Dowse - geograph.org.uk/p/147475





Second Time in the FA Cup

1936

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Posh had a better F A Cup run getting to the first round for the first time in only their second season in the competition. Dartford put the run to an end win 3-0 at home.





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